Reviews Vile Creature Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!

Vile Creature

Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!

There has been a shift in recent years, in heavy music, and it’s one that has given bands and artists the opportunity to use their platform to speak out, to uplift those who need help and to talk about difficult topics more openly. Heavy music is changing, for the better, and one such band using their space for good is Canadian duo Vile Creature. 2018s Cast of Static and Smoke was a science-fiction based narrative that while still rooted in human emotion, contained some more fantastical elements than might usually be found in the doom/sludge scene. The Vile Creature of 2020 are more experienced, even more open to talking about their collective and personal past, and Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! therefore feels more visceral, raw and more truly honest about oppression and the changes that are already underway in this, our modern and destructive world.

Such primeval, true emotion is hard to find and Vile Creature bring it forth throughout their third full-length. It’s in Vic’s (drums/vocals) screams during album opener “Harbinger of Nothing” (partially re-recorded from their contribution to Adult Swim’s Metal Swim 2 compilation of 2019). It’s in the gorgeous gothic choirs of the title track(s) – split in two but treated as one long composition by the band. And it’s in the utter despair of the closing words of the album – “When we are dead and elsewhere. When we are dead...” Vile Creature have produced a record of complete immersion – one that you must submerge yourself in to try to understand their point of view and one that only lets you up for air once it is over, the breath you take when it finishes will be long and full of relief but also, full of sadness. It’s a fine line that Vile Creature tread, to make their music engaging and raw, leaving you wanting more but also leaving you with many thoughts and reflections as to your own place in the world and your own responsibility as to how to effect change.

The defiance that is on display during “Harbinger of Nothing” is felt keenly through Vic’s vocals and the line - “Tell me who I am” - is used not as a question but as a way to elicit a response, daring the recipient of this cry to tell the speaker who they are. How dare anyone tell a person who they are, what their motives are or what their life is like. “Harbinger of Nothing” roils in palpable emotion and it builds towards this mid-section in subtle waves before finally breaking free of its chains and bringing all the rage and years of oppression to the fore. Guitars are tuned low and fuzzy and add texture to an otherwise simple song which allow both Vic and KW to use their voices to the maximum potential. It’s a painful listen, honestly, and the song is almost spiritual in its progression towards total catharsis – expending its pain for all to see and allowing space for relief in its final moments.

The pursuit of catharsis is something that is tangible throughout much of Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! and the band use their music to express their own personal history. Both members contribute bright, pained vocals to “You Who Has Never Slept,” each bringing their own despair to the song yet uniting in a common thought – that together we are stronger – and in doing so finding their individual ways through the commotion and into the light of knowledge.

The final fourteen minutes of the album is given over to a composition that is as striking as it is unusual. “Glory, Glory!” is s simple, choral piece that gives Vile Creature the opportunity to step back, to reassess and to bring about emotion in a more peaceful way than their usual heavy sounds. Soft piano and slow, deliberate strikes on the guitar boost the voices of Laurel Minnes and her choir, Minuscule, giving a haunting aspect to a song that offers a brief moment of respite in an unrelenting album. It’s a new side of Vile Creature and one that the band have been thinking about and striving for for a long time (our recent interview with the band sheds more light on this process). The second part of the song, “Apathy Took Helm!” is ushered in on quiet organs and passionate screams that are pinned down by choral backing and offer up the opposing emotional side – the sudden shift to heavy sounds is in stark contrast to the serenity of its first part and in tilting to the extreme Vile Creature show just how much disparity we have in the world. The crescendo brings sweet release and with it the dawn of a new day – perhaps change will come after all.

Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! is frightening in its honesty. It is illuminated by pain, by history and by hope. It is despairing and forward thinking. It shimmers with life and pays homage to the past. It is vital.

9.0 / 10Cheryl
KFAI - Roar of the Underground
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